Frontier Wheelchairs

Wheelchair users in developing countries face special problems. Because of limited options and funds for wheelchairs, they are often forced to use wheelchairs that don't fully fit their needs and keep them from realizing the full potential of their mobility.

As a senior design team, Frontier Wheelchairs has partnered with Hope Haven International in Antigua, Guatemala, to improve existing wheelchair designs to serve the needs of wheelchair users.

Led by Norman Reese, the project allows students to go through the whole engineering design process, from interacting with the "customer" and developing design concepts, to getting hands-on experience building their own wheelchair.

2013-2014 Academic Year

This year, Frontier Wheelchairs is continuing the work of last year's team, combining engineering and international missions to develop the much-needed 16 inch KidChair for Hope Haven International.

In order to develop a new design, produce a prototype, build tooling for the factory in Antigua, and send a team to implement the 16" KidChair; Frontier Wheelchairs needs to raise $10,000. All gifts are tax deductible. To make a donation to the Frontier Wheelchairs team, visit our donation page.

2012-2013 Academic Year

Hope Haven is one of very few organizations building pediatric wheelchairs for children with special needs, but currently they can only manufacture 12" and 14" wide wheelchairs for designed for children. Teenagers and small adults with special needs simply can't use wheelchairs that small.

This year's senior design team is taking the Hope Haven "KidChair" design and creating a 16" wide version to accommodate larger users. The team is working to design, build and test a prototype that complies with international standards. The new option will give older users greater mobility and opportunities for better quality of life.

Strategic Goals:

  • Finish 2 wheelchair prototypes by Winter Break
  • Run impact and fatigue tests on the prototypes by February
  • Take the prototypes to Guatemala and test them in the field during Spring Break
  • Make any necessary design changes by Summer break 2013

2011-2012 Academic Year

During the 2011-2012 academic year, the team tested, redesigned and created modified prototypes for wheelchairs that provide greater comfort, personalization and mobility options for wheelchair users in Guatemala.

The team began by building a prototype footrest that could be adjusted to fit the needs of the wheelchair's user. During the winter of 2011, the group traveled to Guatemala, where they distributed their modified wheelchairs and received feedback about the functionality and comfort of their modifications.

Returning to LeTourneau, the group spent the spring semester fine-tuning their design and modifying it to be more cost-efficient. They returned to Guatemala during the Spring, providing Hope Haven with their finalized modification designs so the organization could produce the new footrests independently to better provide for the needs of their community.

An article about the Frontier Wheelchairs appeared in the Longview News Journal, and the team was also featured on local NBC affiliate KETK.

Hear what LETU students have to say about their experience